Throughout the summer, The World-Herald will prepare you for the high school football season with a story previewing a new team or teams each day. The stories will start with the smallest classes and work up, and are based on last season’s final Top 10 ratings.
This week, Class C-1 is featured, with Nos. 10-5 today.
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With many teams having to replace former multiyear starters that will play college ball this season, many Class C-1 teams are filling experience gaps on both sides of the ball.
Wayne is replacing quarterback Beau Bowers, and the position remains still unresolved, while Wahoo Neumann and Pierce must replace All-State plaers Evan Welsh, Colin Tinker and Alex Lindsay.
Boys Town must replace Ti’jaih Davis, who is at South Dakota State.
Yet, some teams like West Point-Beemer and Fairbury feel excited about the amount of skill they have coming back.
“We actually feel pretty good about some of the guys we have,” West Point-Beemer coach Troy Schlueter said.
For Fairbury, coach Kameron Lenhart believes the Jeffs have the raw skill, but it’s a matter of using it.
“It’s just going to come down to time and effort,” said Lenhart.
No. 10 Wahoo Neumann (5-5)
Coach: Tim Turman
Championships: 2003, 2002, 1977
Returning players: WR/CB Jake Unger (Jr.); RB/CB Brandon Blum (Jr.); QB/LB Eli Vedral (Jr.); QB/LB Kolten Cada (So.); QB/FS Taylen Pospisil (So.); FB/DE Jon Matulka (So.); LB Jarrett Kmiecik (So.); TE/LB Conner Johnson (Jr.); K/RB/CB Thomas Benes (Jr.); LB/WR Jerry Hageman (Jr.); RB/LB David Lilly (So.); TE/LB Sam Kavan (Jr.); DE/FB Luke Fairbanks (Jr.); T/DE Caden Johnson (Jr.); C/DE Dalton Bartek (So.); T/DT Cole Woita (So.); C/DE Ben Chvatal (Jr.); C/NG Conrad Sander (Jr.); MLB/FB Cade Welsh (Jr.); T Sam Maly (So.); T/DE Tanner Woita (Jr.); TE/OLB Trey Miller (So.)
Key departure: All-stater Evan Welsh may be the most difficult player for the Cavaliers to replace. Welsh finished last season with 68 tackles and two sacks. Welsh will play at Minnesota State this fall.
No. 9 Wayne (7-4)
Coach: Russ Plager, 2nd year
Returning starters: OL/DL Kaden Kneifl (Sr.); RB/SS Juan Vergara (Sr.); OL/DL Drew Buck (Sr.); RB/LB Casey Koenig (Jr.); WR/DB Marcs Fertig (Sr.)
Players to watch: The Blue Devils try to run a balanced offense. However, Plager looks forward to welcoming back last year’s rushing leader Juan Vergara, who finished last season with 1,060 rushing yards. “We’ll have a few different guys rushing, but we’ll probably mainly use him,” Plager said.
Key departure: One position that is vacant is quarterback with the loss of Beau Bowers, who "took basically every rep at the varsity level last year,” Plager said. Senior Tyler Gilliland and junior Tyrus Eischeid are competing for the starting job.
No. 8 Fairbury (9-1)
Coach: Kameron Lenhart, 3rd season
Returning players: RB Joshua Robertson (So.); RB/LB Seth Firmanik (Jr.); RB/LB Carson York (Jr.); WR/CB Jayson Klaumann (Sr.); WR/FS Bret Cole (Jr.); WR/LB Payton Firmanik (So.); QB/CB Devin Wanamaker (Jr.); TE/LB Dalton Buxton (Sr.); WR/CB Chance Amundson (Jr.);RB/CB Brock Beed (Jr.); TE/LB Jayden Schmidt (So.); RB/LB Brody Kroll (So.); RB/OLB Brandon Hinrichs (Sr.); G/DE Lane Zabokrtsky (So.); OL/DL Aden Watson (So.); C/DE Joseph Melcher (Jr.); OL/DL Marcus Deras (So.); OL/DL Isaiah Weers (Sr.); OL/DL Trevin Arnold (Sr.); G/DT Johnathan Kerwood (Jr.); OL/DL Devin Trimm (Sr.); OL/DL Thomas Kroeker (Sr.); OL/DL Ace York (Sr.); G/DE Taylor Runge (So.); WR/DB Austin Novotny (So.); CB/WR Quinton Gwin (Sr.)
Players to watch: Coach Kameron Lenhart believes Seth Firmanik will be an asset for the Jeffs on both sides of the ball. “He moved to the running back position for us, and I do think think he’s going to do really well there.” , Firmanik has also been a defensive stalwart. As a freshman, Firmanik started as a linebacker, and that will continue into his junior year. As a sophomore, he finished the season with 59 tackles, seven for loss. “He’s kind of going to be the heart and soul of the defense on that side of the ball,” Lenhart said.
Key departures: The Jeffs lost Adam Wasserman to Wayne State and Cayman DeBoer to Morningside, but Lenhart has confidence in this season’s team. “The guys we had last year were talented kids, so it’s going to be hard to replace them, but I do think we have some kids who are stepping up and doing what they’re supposed to do to fill that gap,” Lenhart said. Wasserman finished his senior season with 1,543 passing yards for 23 touchdowns, while he also rushed 936 yards for 16 touchdowns.
No. 7 West Point-Beemer (9-2)
Coach: Troy Schlueter, 3rd season
Returning players: WR/CB Ben Vander Griend (Sr.); RB Zach Vander Griend (So.); FS/QB Jacob Reimers (Jr.); WR/CB Manny Barragan (So.); K/OLB Arturo Barrios (So.); RB/DE Blake Anderson (Sr.); SB/OLB Kade Hughes (Sr.); FS/QB Jesus Barragan (So.); CB/RB Gage Vance (Sr.); RB/DE Jesus Ramirez (Jr.); RB/OLB Alejandro Edeza (So.); WR/FS Chase Eisenhauer (Sr.); OLB/TE Nolan James (So.); FB/CB Dylan Newkirk (Sr.); FB Chandler Koenig (Jr.); RB Edgar Rodriguez (So.); T/NG Bailey Hickey (Jr.); G Gavin Voelker (Jr.); C/DT Joe Rodriguez (So.); DE/G Garret Kaup (Jr.); WR/CB Ty Kaup (So.); WR/CB Drake Repschlaeger (So.)
Players to watch: Coach Troy Schlueter has big expectations for Blake Anderson coming into the season. “He’s kind of a stud,” Schlueter said. “He’s basically a big block of muscle.” Anderson finished last season with 783 total yards and 15 touchdowns. On defense, Anderson had 45 solo tackles and 60 total. Fifteen of those tackles were for loss, and he finished with five sacks for 37 yards lost. “He played five or six different positions for us,” Schlueter said. “He’s one of those kids.”
Key departure: Running back Hunter Pilakowski will be missed. “He was a good player,” Schlueter said. “The biggest thing we will miss about him was he was one of those guys that had a huge heart. He never ran away from a hit.” The Cadets also lost left tackle Devon Priestley, who will play for Briar Cliff. Still, Schlueter believes the Cadets will have the right players to have a run at the postseason this fall. “I think we are going to be more athletic, especially on the offensive line,” said Schlueter. “We feel pretty good about the guys we have.”
No. 6 Pierce (7-5)
Coach: Mark Brahmer, 23rd season
Championships: 2008, 2007, 1978
Returning starters: QB/FS Dalton Freeman (Jr.); FB/MLB Brett Tinker (Jr.); RB/LB Carson Oestreich (Jr.); TE/OLB Ryder Ruchs (Sr.)
Players to watch: With a small senior class, the Bluejays will look to the junior class to fill in leadership positions. Returning quarterback Dalton Freeman is one of these juniors. He passed for 693 yards and five touchdowns last year, rushed for 831 yards and 11 TDs and finished with 65 total tackles. Brett Tinker is another junior expected to take a leadership position this season. “He’s a really good football player,” Brahmer said. “He plays with the heart of a lion. He’s that type of kid.” Tinker finished with 107 total tackles, 31 solo, last season. He also had five sacks and rushed for 711 yards.
Key departure: The Bluejays must replace 13 seniors. “We had a really nice senior class last year,” Brahmer said. “They were guys who helped us turn around and finish strong in the semifinals.” Two of these seniors were All-Staters Colin Tinker and Alex Lindsay. Tinker was last season's rushing leader with 1,462 yards and 21 of the Bluejays’ 49 rushing touchdowns. “He was a really good football player that will be tough to replace,” Brahmer said. Alex Lindsay, who will play at Wayne State this fall, had 57 total tackles last season.
No. 5 Boys Town (10-1)
Coach: Chris Nizzi, 2nd season
Returning players: DL/OL Brad Tomasek (Jr.); K Ismael Quebrado-Nunez (Sr.); WR Cameron Lingerfelt (Sr.); RB/LB Carson Peters (Sr.); RB Trey Haggard (Sr.); RB/C Jake Miller (Sr.)
Key departure: All-state honorable mention Dashawn Bates finished last season as the Cowboys' rushing leader with 1,248 yards and 19 touchdowns. Quarterback Ti’jaih Davis was an All-Class C-1 defensive back and will play at South Dakota State this fall.